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  1. #1
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    Default A prospective tinkering welder of sorts...

    Hi, my name's Ross, from Penrith / Sydney. I'm a retired Junior Science Teacher who loves tinkering with all manner of things (eg. metal, wood, electrical, plumbing) in my workshop and was recently blessed with a seemingly ancient Oxford Model RT 180 oil-immersed electric arc welder - courtesy of a family friend who brought the unit out to Oz when he migrated here from the UK about 4 decades ago. Note, years ago, I briefly played around with an arc welder in my school's Metal Workshop and have since longed to get more involved in welding stuff as it's arguably easier and more practical compared to joining things with an assortment of high tensile bolts and/or screws etc ! Accordingly, I'm keen to get the unit safely up and running.....thereafter, to actively seek the advice, expertise and knowledge of members on such a forum who will hopefully be able to assist me in becoming a proficient tinkering welder of sorts.
    Cheers, Ross

  2. #2
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    Since you are in Sydney, I believe the TAFE or Adult Education system there still runs "Hobby Trade courses" in welding.
    That might be the best starting point. After struggling for several years in my youth with friends tryubg to teach me the basics of welding, I found my feet when I enrolled in Tafe welding course in the '70s for 6 or 12 months (can't recall for sure). That helped me unlearn quite a few misunderstandings whihc had held me up getting anywhere. It also taught me quite a bit about metallurgy and why some things are more difficult or impossible to weld and other traps for the ignorant
    Cheers, Joe
    again completely retired - more time to contemplate projects and spend more shed time....

  3. #3
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    Hi Joe, thanks for the sound advice regarding undertaking a welding course of sorts at my local TAFE....such a 'hands on learning' experience would arguably be a lot more beneficial and practical compared to reading related input and/or viewing YouTube clips. I'll also most likely join my local 'Men's Shed' and thereafter hopefully further learn 'first hand' from any members who are suitably experienced. In turn, it'll be a treat to then get involved with community oriented construction projects. Fun times ahead ! In the meantime, bearing in mind my problem of sourcing replacement oil, I'm in a quandary as to whether it's worthwhile resurrecting the Oxford RT180.....alternatively, to buy something like the following, which is arguably a lot more versatile and portable; https://www.machineryhouse.com.au/W1645

  4. #4
    BobL is online now Member: Blue and white apron brigade
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    I agree with Joe about a TAFE course to get you started.
    Although not as good, another alternative is if you know someone who is a capable welder to show you the ropes. At least spend some time watching the capable welder and get him/her to talk you through what they are doing. Then get them to watch your attempts and provide feedback.
    No amount of you tube vids can watch you weld and provide feedback. You tube is useful once you are comfortable with the basics.

    Like Joe I did a night school course in the 70's. The instructor was outstanding and I was up and running and making simple things with 3-4 classes. We then learned by making things and I walked away from that course with a bundle of useful things.

    In terms of using the Oxford as a learning machine, I think you might find it frustrating as it is much easier to learn on a modern inverter type machine and that is what you will learn on if you do a TAFE course. Small inverters usually come with a TIG option (gas bottle is extra) and this is very useful for things like SS and Al. TIG is a whole new ball game but well worth pursuing.

    Welding machines are a bit of a mine field but like most things you get what you pay for. Machine specifications will not tell you the one thing you want to know and that is how long will the machine last for. Unlike old transformer based welders modern welders use sensitive electronics and these are the most likely things to die so purchasing from a reputable dealer that can fix a machine is essential. One machine spec that hints at the longevity of the machine is the "duty cycle". This is a measure of how long a machine will run before it overheats and self protection kicks in to turn it of.

    Duty cycle is a welding equipment specification which defines the number of minutes, within a 10 minute period, during which a given welder can safely produce a particular welding current. For example, a 150 amp. welder with a 30% duty cycle at 150A must be "rested" for at least 7 minutes after 3 minutes of continuous welding.
    Really cheap welders have duty cycles that may be so low that it ends up driving the Welder bonkers waiting around for the welder to cool down. Most DIY welders rarely need more than about 50% duty cycle even at 120A, but what a higher duty cycle also means is that components used in the welder can handle more heat and so are usually more ruggedised that those used in low duty cycle welders.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobL View Post
    Small inverters usually come with a TIG option (gas bottle is extra) and this is very useful for things like SS and Al.
    Just bear in mind that the type of inverter welder you are referring to will generally only do lift-arc DC welding and will not be able to weld aluminium, that requires AC.

  6. #6
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    While it is a preferred course of action to go to a local Tafe and attend an evening welding course, to do so may require an expenditure of more dollars than first anticipated.

    Everyone's situation is different.
    Some work and some are retired.Some just live too damn far from the nearest Tafe.

    I have been online just now and found.
    A NSW Tafe Evening welding course at $850 for 7weeks:

    https://www.tafensw.edu.au/course/16...Basic-Welding/

    Queensland was a somewhat better at $320 for a two day course at Bracken ridge

    Welding - Introduction to Welding - TAFE Queensland SkillsTech

    Ring or email tafe in your area to get the specific local information as it all varies so much, according to location as well as times of course delivery, so for an evening hobby welding course -if you are out in the sticks- it might not be possible.

    A Tafe might tell you there are not enough numbers to support a course.Not that they are liars, but sometimes they make incorrect assumptions.

    However, I know of determined people who have put an ad in the local paper or trading post and secured near double the starting numbers with names and telephone numbers for a particular course.The person presented the Tafe with this information and the course was duly delivered.

    When a lot of we older fellows, started going to the evening Tafe courses, then they where $5 and that money would not have paid for the electrodes.

    Times have changed radically in the way TAFE's are now funded and that demands full cost recovery on courses regarded as no(award) educational outcome in the sense that the person doing the course will not be using the particular course as a modular part of say an apprenticeship or traineeship.

    I was a Queensland Tafe welding course instructor and taught apprentices in the day hours and Post Trade people in the evening over 11 years, so much of what I have written here comes from that experience.

    Failing the options above the next best thing is to chase up someone who can help get you started as in a 1 on 1 situation.
    The must be experienced welders around who could be persuaded.Maybe 3 or 4 hrs might get you started.

    As for the welding machine, it may be well worth refurbishing especially if it is an oil cooled DC unit. Problem is they are as heavy as a unit which many oil cooled welders were. Not the most portable units in the world of machines but they are pretty bulletproof.

    If you are past moving all over the country, the machine will do just great in a fixed postion in your shed or workshop.
    At 180 amps that is a real good range for a medium workshop welder, though you probably may require a 15 amp outlet.

    Grahame

  7. #7
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    Welcome to the forum Ross.

    Ross

  8. #8
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    Hi Ross,
    all good advice you are getting.
    One thing to watch out with the type of welder you inked to is the "VRD". This is a safety device to prevent people getting electrocuted in specific industrial environments - mainly moisture (like in mines etc).
    The side effect is that you CANNOT weld with low hydrogen electrodes. That is a concern for 'tinkerer welders', because you might want to use those for structural welds.
    Ideally, the inverter welder you look for will have an 'Open Circuit Voltage' above 50V for versatility. Yes, it does mean you could get a shock welding in rain, but who does? I don't think 60 or 70Volts would do you a lot of harm, unless you were standing barefoot in saltwater and stuck you sweaty bare hands bare hands in the electrode holder. Other may have different views of course. I've had the odd tingle once or twice sweating like a pig and welding without gloves (not really the done thing), but nothing more that that.

    By the way, my current 'go-to' inverter welder cost me $100..... I've not yet overheated it at all..... So the duty cycle is high enough for my activities. So there are low-cost options...

    Also, I gave my son and my son in law each a portable Lumik welder, after using one for several months. https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/NEW-Lumi...-/191736002700 Both are very happy with them and have done a loit of welding with them. I mentioned it a couple of years ago here: https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/NEW-Lumi...-/191736002700 (Note: This particular welder does NOT have a high enough open circuit voltage for low hydrogen electrodes. Makes sense, since you would be having hanging on your belt or around you shoulders against your sweat-soaked clothes....)
    Cheers, Joe
    again completely retired - more time to contemplate projects and spend more shed time....

  9. #9
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    Gday Ross.
    I bought one of these on tues evening this week. It arrived yesterday. I was hoping to try it out today but with one thing and another it didnt happen. Hopefully tomorrow.
    It has the VRD function that Joe mentions but apparently it can be turned off which enables the use of low Hydrogen rods.
    From what I could find out the company has a pretty good reputation and offer a 5 year warranty on this welder.
    I have a very old ComPac brand (were made out in Orange) transformer type welder which weighs in at somewhere over a gazzillion kg. I also have a good mig which has been my main welder for the last 20 years or so.
    However where I currently live everything rusts that fast you can almost hear it, so doing any small jobs with the mig are a real PIA. I have to remove the spool of wire and wrap it up to keep try and stop it from rusting. So putting the spool back on to do a small job tends to make me avoid the job.

    So a few months ago I had to do a job which happend to be outside (mig not so good in the wind using solid wire and gas) so I dragged the old stick welder out. At that point I hadn't used a stick welder for quite a while. I managed to get the job done but it wasnt my finest hour I can tell you. The old welder was not working as well as in the past and neither was the machine.

    So I decided it was time to splash out and get something a bit better suited for me. (that was the reasoning used when I presented my case to the treasurer anyway)

    I opened up the old welder to check it out and it is pretty primative. Would probably still be going in another 40 years though, but the new inverter one only weighs about 6.5Kg and I can store it in a cupboard.

    Re TAFE courses. I work for TAFE. If you want to find out about night welding courses, dont rely on the Course Information section for information. Call the main campus number and ask for the name and number (or email address) of the welding/metal fab Head Teacher. Get in contact with him/her and ask about courses. At this time of the year just before classes start, you might get an answering machine. Doesnt matter. If you leave a clear message with your name and number and your enquiry they should get back to you reasonably quickly.
    Its important that you leave a clear message though. The amount of messages that get left with something along the lines of "hello this is mumble, mumble, mumble call me on 04mumble etc (or they they say the number so fast you have to play the message back 5 times to get the number) is pretty high. Most H/T's have that much to do that they dont bother trying to work out a garbled message.
    Hope this helps.

    regards
    Peter

  10. #10
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    BobL, I know a retired Fitter & Turner who would be great as a mentor but he unfortunately lives about 3 hours drive away. Accordingly, I'm in the process of seeking his much appreciated welding related advice via email. Undertaking a TAFE course certainly is wise advice. Yes, a DC inverter welder appears to be more practical and easier to use compared to the ancient Oxford.....hence I'll most likely get my son-in-law (a carpenter/builder) to flog it on the likes of Gumtree. In turn, I'd like to source a relatively 'heavy duty' welder that offers a decent duty cycle (a related analogy - rather than flogging a 4 puny cylinder, or running an overly gutsy V8, I'd rather comfortably cruise along with a 6 cylinder). Note, I don't anticipate ever exceeding welding steel that's thicker than 10mm. So, the million dollar question - which Make and Amp rated DC Inverter arc welder to buy ?

  11. #11
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    Hi Peter, you've really got me panting at the bit to go back to school, as a student ! Accordingly, I'll endeavour to contact the Head Teacher at my local TAFE and see what welding courses are on offer. Your gazzillion kg old ComPac's probably as heavy as the ancient Oxford RT180......what a contrast to the current DC Inverter units ! Sincere thanks for your much appreciated reply.
    All the best, Ross

  12. #12
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    Hi Joe, yes, I agree....I'm most grateful for the sound advice being offered by numerous members on this forum - fantastic. Regarding electrodes, a retired Fitter & Turner friend of mine suggested primarily using 2.5 & 3.2mm CigWeld Satincraft 13 rods. Note, bearing in mind that I anticipate welding steel that ranges from about 2 to 10mm thick, could you please advise me if something like the suggested Lumik 160 Amp DC iGBT Inverter would be suitable, and if not, any other recommendations.
    Cheers, Ross

  13. #13
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    Hi Grahame, I fortunately live only about 4 km from my local TAFE....I've yet to enquire what courses are on offer and their relevant costs. The Oxford RT 180's arguably heavy enough to securely anchor the Queen Mary during a Force Ten gale so being readily portable's out of the question. In fact, I had to improvise and think like an Egyptian in order to wheel the unit across my lawn to the Workshop, namely, by progressively using a number of wooden slats ! A number of folk have suggested that I alternatively acquire a more portable and easier to use DC Inverter....rather tempting, particularly if I can't readily obtain the recommended oil. The Oxford currently has a 10 Amp plug....if I keep it I'd be inclined to alternatively change to a 15 Amp plug & outlet. We'll see.
    Cheers, Ross

  14. #14
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    Hi Ross,
    DO keep in mind that I'm a 'tinkerer' too, not a welder.
    The amps you set your welder to depends on the diameter of the electrodes - not really the thickness of the material (there is a range of course).
    So you will certainly be able to weld much much thicker material than 10mm with a 3.2mm rod at around 135A or so. It just requires more passes to fill the weld preparation V's you would grind or cut on thicker material.
    160A is OK for 4mm rods, but you are then in the lowest duty cycle of the welder and you may not get a whole rod to weld before you overheat/overload it. I'd stick with your friend's suggestion of not going above 3.2mm rods.
    Cheers, Joe
    again completely retired - more time to contemplate projects and spend more shed time....

  15. #15
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    Hi Joe, I pretty much favour '6 cylinder powered' items, in this case, acquiring a welder that won't readily overheat or overload during the course of tinkering around in my workshop. In turn, I've read some 'product reviews' about a couple of Uni-Mig welders (refer attached links)....it appears that the specs and performance of such Chinese made units are questionable, hence I'm now understandably rather cautious and apprehensive about buying a potential lemon. https://www.productreview.com.au/p/u...i-mig-180.html
    https://www.productreview.com.au/p/u...g-mma-200.html

    Being curious, I'm now awaiting a reply from BENZOIL who apparently also make transformer oriented oil - the bonus being it's allegedly available in more realistic & practical volumes. So who knows, if I can't find a decent / reliable DC Inverter welder then I might just resurrect the ancient but allegedly almost bullet proof Oxford - to be strictly used as a Workshop based unit.
    Cheers, Ross

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